Standing Up for the Rights of Children
This past Monday, Cardinal Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, made this statement to the media, on the new sex and phys-ed curriculum release by Ontario’s government.
I must admit, although I have a deep respect for Cardinal Collins, both because of his position and the many great things he has done for the local Church, I read this statement with shock and disappointment.
After a campaign against this curriculum supported by tens of thousands of Ontarians, and strong statements by other bishops and MPs, the most important Catholic authority in Ontario did not oppose the change, but instead said that our schools would deal with it, and present it in a Catholic way.
I believe this is a very flawed response, and a big mistake on the part of the good Cardinal, and the Institute for Catholic Education (ICE) under him, which made a similar statement in support of the new curriculum.
Much of this public statement presents what I would call an overly optimistic view of Catholic education. For example, it says:
“For more than 30 years, Ontario’s publicly funded Catholic schools have provided a family life curriculum consistent with our faith.”
But have they, really? The curriculum that our schools have delivered for the past 30 years has consistently been questionable. It has very often taught students to use contraception, been ambiguous on questions like abortion or homosexuality, and failed to form students in chastity. In my experience the Church’s teaching has consistently been either ignored, or presented in a manner so dumbed down as to lose all credibility, while a worldly sexuality is always taught much more rigorously.
Similarly, the statement says that Catholic schools will “continue this tradition”, with respect to conveying Catholic principles to students. For me and, I believe, many other parents, that’s what we’re afraid of. We know that some Catholic window-dressing will be wrapped around the immoral teachings, maybe a disclaimer which as often as not will be read out sarcastically by a teacher who hasn’t set foot in a church for months if not years, before the curriculum is taught essentially unmodified.
That’s what has happened in the past, and I’m not at all convinced it won’t happen now.
Further, to be frank, this is not just a Catholic issue. This curriculum is very clearly harmful to children, and it should be refused by everyone.
This curriculum is not, as the Ontario government has disingenuously claimed, designed to protect children. In fact it does the complete opposite – it will certainly encourage early sexual activity, and there are grave concerns that it will make children more vulnerable to “grooming” by sexual predators.
Just one example: students will be taught how to give “legal consent” to sexual activity, in grade 6. Now in case that doesn’t seem shocking, let me remind you that the age at which one can give legal consent to sexual activity in Ontario is 16 years old. The average grade 6 student is 10 or 11. Giving these kids the idea that they can choose to have sex at that age is an opening that abusers are certain to exploit.
But this all makes sense, given that the curriculum’s original architect, former Deputy Minister of Education Ben Levin, is himself (allegedly) a sexual predator. Back in 2013, he was charged after encouraging a mother in an online chat to abuse her child and sent him a video of it (that ‘mother’ was an undercover police officer). He was also caught in possession of child pornography. Is it any surprise then, to find that this criminal’s pet project of a curriculum sexualises children in a way no curriculum has before?
Our cardinals, bishops and priests, as well as the members of ICE, need to stand up for the rights of our children. And parents and teachers must refuse to allow this curriculum to be taught to the children under their care. Whether it’s writing to your MP, removing your children from class, teaching extra lessons at home, or even choosing to homeschool, it’s ultimately the parent’s responsibility to protect their child, especially when the government and the Church hierarchy aren’t doing enough.